Monday, 4 July 2016

Talent shows! A comparative observation of British and Indian shows

Coincidentally, Britain's Got Talent and its Indian import, India's Got Talent are being aired at the same time this year.

The former was shown on VH1 (in India), and the latter on Colors TV.

I don't watch any of the usual song and dance reality shows, of which there are dime a dozen on Indian TV channels.  

Nor of course, do I ever make the mistake of watching any one of the 'rubber-band' drivel.  

But talent shows are different.  They showcase real talents, of real people.  

And they end in time.  Well, certainly BGT does, but IGT gets stretched out a bit.  

So here's what I make of these two shows:

Britain's Got Talent

The upside:
  • Short, accurate and crisp.  The packaging of the show is just right.  
  • It is blessed with witty hosts - Ant and Dec; and a range celebrity judges from different segments of the entertainment industry - acting/singing/production/talent development (not just acting as in IGT). 
  • Simon Cowell.  Yes, I hear you groaning in protest.  But like it or not, it is plain to see.  Every contestant waits with bated breath to hear his comments on his/her performance.  Cowell says it like it is.  And it seems to matter to them, as well as the audience.
  • For comic relief, there is David Williams.  Loved him in Little Britain!
  • There are no commercial and promotional interludes during the program.  It is focused on the main content, without pandering to the diktats of the commercial industries.  

The downside:
  • There were too many singing and dancing acts.  Yes these are talents too, but isn't there an endless stream of  singing/dancing reality shows where these acts can be showcased?  
  • Here's a minor grouse: this time, there were quite a few acts that were not from mainland Britain.  Some were from other European countries.  It is, after all, Britain's Got Talent, isn't it?  Then why showcase talents from other countries?  Perhaps post-Brexit, we won't see this next year!
  • The entire program is directed towards only one goal in mind: entertaining the Royal Family - the Lords, Masters and yes, Gods of Britain.  It is as though the entire event is meaningless without the blessings of one family.  Sorry, I find the concept of swearing allegiance to one individual (over and above the nation) appalling.  Therefore I do not consider performing in the Royal Variety Show to be the pinnacle of showbiz success.  

India's Got Talent

The upside:
  • The talent this year has been especially amazing.  Kudos to the team for having reached out to the smaller towns and cities to unearth unseen talents.
  • Just when you think you have seen them all, along comes another act that throws you off your feet; especially the acrobatic and aerial acts.
  • Bharti Singh as the comic relief, is great.
  • Unlike BGT, thankfully, IGT is all about the common man; often even the poor man, who has fought circumstances to present his talent to the entire nation (and not just one family).  And I feel that this is telling; it is the desperation to escape from the routine drudgery of their daily lives that brings out the best in these small town folks - this you don't get to see in BGT.

The downside:
  • As with BGT, there are too many singing and dancing acts.  There is a rock band this year which has been murdering old Hindi film songs.  Unless it is something extraordinary or different from the usual singing/dancing, none of these acts, one hopes, wins.  
  • Film promotions: we are cursed with the actors/producers/directors  of upcoming releases imposing themselves on reality shows and serials.  Just blatant commercialization!  Sometimes the entire episode is devoted to promoting the film or serial, and pampering the superstars' egos.  Worse, some of these are star-kids, who should not be there in the first place, let alone sit alongside judges!  Just hate these promotional interferences!
  • As if that weren't enough, irrational decisions by the judges - all three are from the acting stream, mind - and additional rounds only end up marring  the show.  For example, the golden buzzer round comprised of participants who had already received that honour from the judges.  But in the semifinals, the judges again selected four acts to send through to the finals.  One would have thought that audience poll would be in order, considering the judges had already decided once as to who should get the golden buzzer.  And sometimes, the judges give a standing ovation for a lackluster act, and remain seated after the ones we think are outstanding.  Curious or what!  
  • There was at least one act, whose family members were seen distributing pamphlets and canvassing votes from the public.  Does this mean that even though the participants have an off day during the semifinals, they should still get the vote from the public?  What is this, a political election?  This is the downside of public vote; and it appears to be a curious affliction of public voting in Indian reality shows.   

So there you have it; my take on BGT and IGT.  

For the sake of the common man, woman, boy and girl striving to entertain us and make a name for themselves, perhaps we can overlook the downsides and give them their one chance in the spotlight.  

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